Tilikum: The Ticking Time Bomb

The tragedy that could have been prevented


In Gabriela Cowperthwaite's documentary Blackfish, the director is successful in showing the dangers of killer whales held in captivity by having lives taken away by the whales and showing the injuries to the whales over a period of a time.

Example 1: Image of Tilikum bleeding out

This image below shows Tilikum bleeding out from vicious attacks from the diverse group of whales held in captivity. As a result of the whales being from different parts of the world, the mammals don't all get along and one wants to show their dominance over the others. This picture is a result of this behavior. This is effective in showing the mistreatment of the whales held in captivity compared to out in the wild where they are expected live as long as a human and here they are decreased by more than 50% for life expectancy.
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Example 2: Footage of the incident with Mrs. Brancheau

This video demonstrates the incident in which the killer whale Tilikum is doing his normal routine before a live event. Dawn had ordered the whale to do a lap around the perimeter and Dawn had blown the whistle for it to get a treat, but Tilikum didn't hear the noise and started to get annoyed. This video is effective in showing that this attack on Brancheau was no accident, it was the frustration built inside of the mammal for over 10+ years. This creature took the life of a professional trainer; it could have been anyone in the staff at Sea World.

Example 3: A Gallery of the whale's Slanted Dorsal Fin

This gallery demonstrates all the different whales collapsed dorsal fins as a result of being held in captivity for all these years. One of the tourists had mentioned that 25% of the whales have a collapsed dorsal fin as they get older, but is completely false as less than 1% of them in the wild don't have the setback to them. This makes the viewer believe in the information of aquatic parks like Sea World about whales. The multiple effects of the killer whales demonstrates the improper care for the creatures as well as the effects of being held in captivity.


After witnessing this documentary, my feelings toward aquatic amusement parks has greatly been impacted by the mistreatment of the whales and the after effects of each one. Any type of creature that is placed with different people won't always get along like the diverse species of whales from all around the world. Most are 'homesick' and want to be with their families not feeling like they're stuck in a prison. I didn't know that places like Sea World try to cover up all their mistakes and try to make the public unaware of what's really going on behind the scenes.